In Insert Coin, we look at an exciting new tech project that requires funding before it can hit production. If you'd like to pitch a project, please send us a tip with "Insert Coin" as the subject line.
If there's one thing that smartphones have taught us, it's that small devices can surf the internet and play games just fine, thank you. With that philosophy in mind, the brains behind eMachines have launched the $99 MiiPC on Kickstarter with the goal of giving kids their own mini PC to surf the web, play games or videos, and, yes, do homework. To keep costs down, the tiny device is packing Android 4.2, a Marvell 1.2GHZ dual core CPU, 1GB RAM, 4GB upgradeable storage, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, ethernet and 1080p HDMI output to a monitor or TV. The backers say it's "designed for large screen connectivity and optimized to provide a true keyboard and mouse experience" so that each family member can run Android apps from their own accounts. For worried parents, the device brings an interesting twist: there's also a mobile iOS or Android companion app to monitor your offspring in real-time from any locale. That'll let you steer them away from verboten websites and stave off dreaded internet addiction, according to the outfit -- bearing in mind, of course, that kids can be pretty clever. The campaign's just kicked off, and MiiPC's seeking $50,000 with a $99 pledge ($89 for the first 200 backers) netting you your own device -- sans keyboard, mouse and screen, of course. Check the video or PR after the break for more.
Filed under: Desktops
Evernote has finally brought its Android client up to par with its iOS counterpart, pushing it to version five. The update, which just hit the Play store, includes a mild face lift that offers more contrast between notes and other UI elements, as well as a few new icons with a bit more depth and detail. The visual tweaks aren't particularly exciting, though. What has us rushing for the update button are all the new features, like the completely revamped camera interface. You can now take several images and add them all to a note in one shot. While a dedicated "page" camera helps you get the best results when snapping photos of hand-written missives by boosting contrast and removing shadows. Of course, the company thinks that feature works particularly well when paired with its branded Moleskin notebooks, but those are purely optional. The results from the couple of quick snapshots we took were bright clear and as legible as could be expected. Unfortunately there are continued issues with Evernote's text recognition, which tends to be slow for non-premium users.
Gallery: Evernote 5 for Android
Source: Evernote (Google Play)
Subtlety can't always avert controversy. That leaked build of Windows Blue is a case in point: it suggests a relatively incremental update to Windows 8, yet some of its revelations are already causing quite a stir. Neowin now reports that Internet Explorer 11, as contained within the leaked build, identifies itself to host websites as "Mozilla... like Gecko." Confusing, right? Perhaps, but it's not really as underhand as it sounds, as you can see from the full line of code in the picture above.
The program still identifies itself (in brackets) as IE 11, but it forgoes Microsoft's older identifier ("MSIE") and simply describes itself as being a browser that renders HTML in a similar way to Firefox's Gecko layout engine. Neowin speculates that the reason for this could be to start afresh: by confusing host websites with a new identifier, IE 11 might avoid having legacy CSS code thrown at it, dating back to the bad old days when web designers had to give Internet Explorer special treatment. It's also been suggested that this could cause problems for business apps that genuinely rely on legacy CSS code -- although it's worth remembering that we're not looking at a final release here, and none of us (ahem) are even meant to be using it.
Evernote's premium package adds a bunch of extra features to the online jotter if you're willing to pay the price. Now though, if you've got a mobile, fixed-line or broadband contract with Deutsche Telekom, a deal between the companies means you'll be able to skip that 40 euro annual charge (around $52) and enjoy the power-user suite free for a year. Don't get down if you've already forked out, though, as current premium subscribers can just tag that extra year onto the end of their cycle. In addition, Evernote has added another feature for premium users worldwide it calls "Document Search," which'll rifle through various note-attached files created in MS Office, iWork or OpenOffice. If you happen to be on Deutsche Telekom's books, you can sign up for your free premium account at the link below. Then again, you've got until the back end of September 2014 to claim, so you could always clip this and get to it later.
Via: The Next Web
Remember the Xperia ZL? While it lingered in the shadow of the waterproof Xperia Z back at CES, the phone does still exist and has now gone on preorder at Sony's own webstore. Withc the same 5-inch 1080p display, 13-megapixel camera and Snapdragon S4 Pro of the omnibalanced Z model, the Xperia ZL packs it into a smaller footprint and adds the courtesy of a physical camera button. Sony's NFC skills remain onboard and that lead camera is capable of HDR video capture, alongside recent improvements to the Xperia range's automatic shooting mode. While its own retail site is currently down (and there's no concrete date for when you'll get your hands on the phone), Sony says that it will be available from other online stores soon, pricing the Xperia ZL, contract- and carrier-less, at a hefty $720 on HSPA, or $760 for the 4G variant. That pricier option includes LTE Bands 2, 4 5, and 17, which means it should connect with AT&T's 4G network -- with or without any carrier branding.
Source: Sony Store
While Americans and Canadians have enjoyed making app-based voice calls to their Facebook contacts since January, their overseas buddies have missed out -- until now. The social network's iOS Messenger app has just doled out the calling feature to the UK and potentially other parts of Europe too, although we haven't yet been able to confirm exactly how far and wide the update reaches. It's worth noting that the feature isn't enabled on the Android iteration yet, either. The new calling service isn't powered by Skype this time, although it works in a similarly uncomplicated way, with the ability to leave voice messages with any busy users. According to Pocket-lint, this is an experimental version, warning that you might experience a few bugs and glitches as you play around with it, but hey, you're getting free calls to (most of) your friends, barring any data charges. We've tested the new feature and it's working for several of our UK editors over both WiFi and 3G, but if you haven't already picked up the messaging app yet, you can grab it at the source below.
Source: Facebook Messenger
Before quadrocopters become Skynet's roaming recon fleet, they'll begrudgingly entertain us, and in a recent promotional enterprise, a swarm braved the London "spring" to remind us of the imminent launch of Star Trek: Into Darkness. Over the weekend, drone masters Ars Electronica Futurelab sent a party of 30 LED-tagged AscTec Hummingbirds halfway to Hoth, and used the relative darkness of Earth Hour to set an approximately 300-foot high Star Trek logo twinkling over Tower Bridge. A video of the event can be found below, complete with epic music and movie cut-scenes sure to send even the most Vulcan of trekkers to sickbay with hysteria. If anyone behind the promotion is reading -- please, whatever you do, just don't give them phasers.
Filed under: Robots
Just when Google thought everything was going swell with its open source VP8 video standard for the web, up pops one last hurdle. And it's a big one: Nokia has suddenly decided to use the patent system to try to prevent VP8 from being adopted as a free (or at least free-er) alternative to the license-laden H.264. Why would it do such a thing? Because, according to a statement given to FOSS Patents, the Finnish manufacturer believes VP8 isn't truly open. It describes the codec as a "proprietary technology" that offers "no advantages" over H.264 and that Google is "attempting to force" on others as part of its WebM project. What's more, Nokia claims VP8 infringes on its own intellectual property and says it isn't prepared to license any patents that may be required to let VP8 flourish. Oh dear. This problem may now need even more money thrown at it.
Via: The Register
Source: FOSS Patents
Less than two years after the CyanogenMod founder was scooped up by Samsung to improve Android's veneer, Steve Kondik has decided to depart for greener pastures. In a Google Plus posting, the software engineer shared his mostly positive impressions for Samsung's Galaxy S 4, casually mentioning that he'd departed the Korean behemoth's embrace. The one thing that came in for a bashing was TouchWiz's updated UI, that he says "feels like it has been sent back a few years in time to the Froyo days." Responding to a comment, Mr. Kondik said that nothing in particular had prompted his departure beyond a desire to "do something new," but given the man's pedigree, we can only assume it'll be somehow related to the little green droid that could.
[Image credit: Erica Joy]
Via: Android Police
Source: Steve Kondik (Google Plus)
Do you listen to Spotify? Do you have a Raspberry Pi? Well, Pi MusicBox might just be the thing for you. It's a bootable Debian image for RaspBerry Pi that implements Modipy, a music server which enables playback from local storage, Spotify streaming and remote-control from any MPD (Music Player Daemon) client or web browser (see screenshots above). There are MPD apps for most platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows and Mac OS. Pi MusicBox also supports WiFi, USB audio and AirTunes streaming right out of the, err, box. So, if your Raspberry Pi is jonesing to play some tunes, go ahead and hit those links below.
Filed under: Misc
Source: Pi MusicBox
When we placed LG's Optimus L7 into the palm of our reviewer, they found the handset to be stylish, with a cracking display, excellent battery life and a (then) up-to-date version of Android. Sadly, the party ended after that -- with sluggish internals that can't cope with the company's UI tweaks, weak touchscreen and a lackluster camera. But we're fairly sure our review didn't dissuade all of you from buying one of these, so to those people we ask the following: what, if you were Mr. and Mrs. LG, would you have done differently?
Your smartphone and / or tablet is just begging for an update. From time to time, these mobile devices are blessed with maintenance refreshes, bug fixes, custom ROMs and anything in between, and so many of them are floating around that it's easy for a sizable chunk to get lost in the mix. To make sure they don't escape without notice, we've gathered every possible update, hack, and other miscellaneous tomfoolery we could find during the last week and crammed them into one convenient roundup. If you find something available for your device, please give us a shout at tips at engadget dawt com and let us know. Enjoy!
You might say the week is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workweek, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Weekly Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past seven days -- all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.
The power of crowdfunding is that, by aggregating relatively modest donations from what is often hundreds or even thousands of backers, consumers can help artists and inventors turn ideas or concepts into reality. The Pebble smartwatch that set the record for funds raised on Kickstarter was noteworthy for breaking the $10 million barrier. That money, though, came from nearly 69,000 backers.
Today, the two biggest crowdfunding destinations, Indiegogo and Kickstarter, offer different approaches to what gets presented on their sites. Indiegogo is a completely open site; there is virtually no screening of projects. Kickstarter, on the other hand, is a curated site. Projects must meet a range of criteria. As co-founder Yancey Strickler recently explained at Engadget Expand, the roots of Kickstarter were in the funding of creative and social pursuits. Kickstarter has been a haven for artists such as photographers looking to create a photo book or musicians seeking to cut a first album or create a music video.
- Kyocera Torque coming to Sprint's Direct Connect lineup in March, we go hands-on (video)
- Kyocera Torque hitting Sprint March 8th, carrying $100 price tag
- Kyocera teases tissue conduction audio technology for mobile phones at CTIA
Sacrificing a smartphone's thin and sleek form factor with a case is tantamount to sacrilege in some circles. Others feel little comfort venturing outdoors without having their phone wrapped safely in one sleeve or another. Sprint's Kyocera Torque, though, is for people who demand more than just a sheath of silicone to keep their device safe. Instead of relying on a case for its protection, it's durable in its own right, with an IP67 rating and Military Standard 810G certification to help it withstand everything from water to salt fog.
In addition, the handset carries the distinction of being the very first phone released in the US with Kyocera's Smart Sonic Receiver tissue-conduction tech, which does away with the traditional earpiece. We put the Now Network's first LTE push-to-talk phone through our review gauntlet not only to gauge how tough it is, but also to find out how well it performs. Head past the break to see how it fared.
Gallery: Kyocera Torque Review: Hardware
Yes, again with the mobile battery packs. (We're power users, okay?) In this week's roundup, Joe ditches his Elecom charger for the Mophie Air, and tells you everything you may wanted to know (and maybe a few things you didn't). Rounding things out, Darren kicks the tires on ioSafe's durable, "disaster-proof" NAS box, while Dan uses Bing Translator to avoid offending the lovely people of Germany.
Filed under: Microsoft
T-Mobile must not want to wait for a special event to lure customers through its doors: it just launched its revamped, decidedly UnCarrier-like plans a couple of days early. As became clearer this weekend, unlimited voice, text and basic data are now things you can take for granted on Magenta's network. It's only the cap on throttle-free data that determines how much you pay: rates sold through T-Mobile itself start at $50 for a basic 500MB of online use and climb in steady 2GB increments that each cost an extra $10 per month, up to a total of 12.5GB for $110. You can still get truly unlimited service if you want, for $70 -- although you'll have to bolt on a separate hotspot plan that the capped tiers get for free. Costs at resellers are expected to run slightly higher, but it's still clear that T-Mobile is aggressively courting those of us who see internet access as the very reason to have a smartphone in the first place.
By early 2014, passengers may be able to use certain electronic devices in airplane mode during takeoff and landing, according to a New York Times report. The publication's industry sources say that the Federal Aviation Administration may announce more lenient electronics policies later this year, allowing passengers to use "reading devices" during takeoff and landing -- while it's not clear which gadgets would qualify, cellphones would remain on the ban list. The FAA commissioned an industry group to study the issue of in-flight electronics use -- the team, which includes representatives from Amazon, Boeing, the CEA, FCC, and others, will announce the results of its study by July 31st.
The issue has support from key lawmakers as well. Senator Claire McCaskill is calling the FAA out on its authorization of pilots to use iPads in the cockpit and flight attendants to use devices of their own, while restricting passengers from reading books on e-readers -- "A flying copy of 'War and Peace' is more dangerous than a Kindle," she told the Times. And we'd have to agree. Until the FAA announces a policy revision, we all have no choice but to reluctantly comply with the ban, but with devices like Google Glass on the horizon, updated restrictions could not come too soon.
Source: The New York Times
MIDI might be a little long in the tooth as protocols go, but it's been the prevailing standard for getting music hardware and software to play nice pretty much since its inception. As such, the MIDI controller is a fairly established staple in professional and bedroom studios alike. The problem is they're generic by nature. They come in all shapes and sizes, but to be profitable, they need to appeal to a broad range of applications. Ableton clearly didn't think this arrangement was up to snuff, though, so it created Push -- a software controller built entirely for its popular Live production software. While there have been Live-specific controllers before -- some even officially endorsed by Ableton -- Push is a whole new beast. It's one that hopes to unite hardware and software in a way that an all-purpose controller never could.
Ableton also has lofty musical ambitions for Push: it claims it designed the hardware as an instrument in and of itself; something that lets you close the lid of the laptop and use to make music with, while not looking like you are checking your email. And, given that Ableton makes the software that it's building Push for, integration is understandably expected to be airtight. But how well does it work? Is it an instrument? Will it replace all your other controllers? Do you want one? Is it worth the $599 pre-order price? Will it blend? We've pushed ourselves to explore the device fully in an effort to find out (apart from that last question, of course).
Gallery: Ableton Push review
Want to get a first-hand look at Microsoft's updated OS? You might be able to download the unreleased Windows Blue operating system on your own machine. Leaked build 9364 hit file sharing sites earlier today -- according to Neowin, the 32-bit edition is available for download as a 2.63GB ISO, and likely hit the web from a Microsoft partner in France. Notable adjustments include larger and smaller Live Tiles, enabling a bit more Start screen customization, along with an updated side-by-side app view, which boosts multitasking efficiency by displaying two applications with matching width. Other additions include a Play option under the Devices panel, a screenshot button on the Share sidebar, and Internet Explorer 11, which comes packaged with the new OS. Windows Blue build 9364 appears to be an unauthorized leak, but even if you have any reservations about installing it on your own machine, you'll surely be able to check out plenty of eye candy from other users over the hours and days to come. In the meantime, hit up the source links for a few more screenshots.